Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Virginia Civil Rights monument in the making

The Richmond Democrat, published by J.C. Wilmore, has recently been proposing that new public art be created to honor some overlooked Virginians.

“A few days ago I proposed that the time had at last come to honor Virginia’s Unionists -- Virginians who had stayed loyal to the United States during the American Civil War. My proposal is based on the simple premise that Virginians who render heroic service to the United States are deserving of some recognition in the form of a monument or monuments...”

The original post for that notion has brought him some reaction -- surprise! -- from a warmed-over apologist for the Lost Cause.

So, to cheer J.C. up, and to encourage him to keep on keeping on, I want to direct him and my readers, in general, to a web site about an ongoing project that should be of some interest. It is The Virginia Civil Rights Commission's site, and you may find some encouragement there.

Not about the Civil War, this is about the long overdue honoring of some brave Virginians from another era. Below are some excerpts from the copy on display at that site:
  • In 2005, the Governor and the Virginia General Assembly established a memorial commission to select a monument for Capitol Square in honor of the struggle for full civil rights for Virginia's African American citizens. The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial Commission, comprised of elected and civic leaders, has met over the last several months to select a subject for the memorial, a site and an artist. The memorial will honor the student protest at the Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia.”
  • In 1951, a walk-out and demonstration -- led by a 16-year-old student named Barbara Johns -- was held by the students of the Robert R. Moton School to protest the intolerable conditions at the school. Legal action followed the protest and led to the federal court case, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (1952), where the students were represented by noted civil rights attorneys Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson. Their case was eventually joined with four other cases and argued before the Supreme Court as Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka , which culminated in one of the most pivotal decisions ever rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  • “The Commision’s selection of the Moton School protest was in part motivated by the hope that the tens of thousands of students who visit Capitol Square every school year will be particularly drawn to, and moved by, the story of what happened there. The eventual success of these students and their protest has much to teach us today.”
  • “The Commission chose sculptor Stanley Bleifeld based on his initial concept design for the memorial. Bleifeld is an internationally known artist who has exhibited all over the world at many prestigious galleries and museums. He also has extensive experience with public commissions. Stanley Bleifeld has been an artist in the public eye since the 1950’s. In 1967, the Bridgeport Sunday Post art critic wrote, ‘The name Stanley Bleifeld and sculpture are synonymous.’”
This most worthy project has been spearheaded by Lisa Collis, former First Lady of Virginia. Click here to read more about it. I can't wait to see this sculpture installed on the grounds in Capitol Square.
Art from The Virginia Civil Rights Commission

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